Parents and coaches are typically prepared for the possibility a concussion might happen during high-school sports play, but younger kids are at risk for traumatic brain injury, too. A concussion can happen at any age, and injuries that can cause them don’t just happen during sporting events. A concussion can occur due to an injury that occurs on the playground. Skate-boarding, sled riding, bicycle riding and even a slip and tumble can result in concussion.

A concussion occurs when there is a blow to the head or neck and can also happen if the body is jarred forcefully. It happens when the brain hits against the hard, bony surface of the skull. Brain cells may be damaged and function may be impaired. Symptoms result, and they may range from so mild they are barely noticeable, to quite severe and debilitating.

If you detect or even suspect any signs of concussion in a child, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical care. This is the best way to protect against potential brain damage and serious risks to the child’s well-being. Symptoms may include dizziness, slurred speech, or balance problems. One side of the face might droop, or the pupil of one eye may be dilated. Sometimes concussion causes head pain and nausea.

Never assume that if a child hasn’t blacked out, he or she hasn’t suffered a concussion. Blacking out after a head injury should warrant a trip to the ER, but never consider this a guideline for determining whether or not a traumatic brain injury has occurred.

Sometimes symptoms of a concussion appear right away, while other times it may take several hours or days or even weeks before problems are noticeable. Children may struggle with mood disturbances, memory loss, difficulty with focusing on tasks or studies, or they may struggle with listlessness or sleep difficulties. These are potential signs of impairment in brain function that should be addressed with proper support.

Although a CT scan or MRI may be needed at the time of a head injury to check for concussion, more in-depth assessment is used to evaluate brain function and the brain-body connection. A functional neurologist can provide this type of care. Whether the head injury happened recently or some time ago, a functional neurologist can determine exactly which areas of the brain have been affected. Then, a customized plan of therapeutic support that is safe, gentle, and completely natural can be developed.

The type of support functional neurologists provide is usually efficient as well as effective. Brain-based therapy takes advantage of today’s latest technology and advances in neurological function. As the brain heals and proper function is regained, any physical, cognitive or emotional symptoms the child is experiencing typically fade, and best of all, these gains are lasting.